Plenty of local flavor at Sheffield Tip-Off
The annual Sheffield Sports Boosters Tip-Off Tournament gets underway this afternoon as the Wolverines welcome boys and girls teams from across District 9 and District 10 to the Ralph J. Santo gymnasium.
The Lady Wolverines face a field that includes Port Allegany, Mercer and cross-county rival Youngsville. The boys bracket also has Port Allegany, along with Jamestown and North Clarion.
New girls head coaches Tony Richards (Sheffield) and Vicky Montecalvo (Youngsville) will get a good early season test in their semi-final contests.
Youngsville faces Mercer to open the tournament at 4 p.m. today. The Mustangs are coming off a 13-10 campaign and a third place finish in District 10’s Region 1, behind 2A state runner-up West Middlesex and perennial power Kennedy Catholic. Mercer had no seniors on last season’s team and should be in contention for a region title again if Darby Miller (9.91 ppg), Mackenzie Baker (5.61 ppg) and Lizzy Fedorchak (5.86 ppg) can take a step forward.
Montecalvo takes over a team that was 4-18 a season ago. The Eagles lost Erin Dunn and Megan Foley to graduation, but have leading scorer Sadie Hoffman (9.48 ppg) coming back. Youngsville will need an uptick in production from junior Kamryn Weissinger and senior Mallory Sherrard to get back to .500
Port Allegany finished third in the North Tier League last year and had a 16-7 overall record. The Gators lost three players to graduation, but get a big boost with Cailey Barnett (13.4 ppg, 879 career points) returning. Bree Garzel (9.6 ppg) is also back, but the Gators need to find another scorer to complement those two if they want to take a step forward this season.
Richards inherits a Sheffield team that was 2-20 last season and will be without its leading scorer this year. The Lady Wolverines will turn to senior Marissa Grubbs and junior Lily Lauffenberger for leadership while looking to establish depth and a new identity under the new head coach.
The boys bracket features a pair of returning league leaders, and a pair of teams looking to turn things around.
Jamestown won District 10’s Region 1 last season with a 12-12 record. The bad news for the Muskies is they’ll have to replace Austin Smith and Dawson Urbansky who combined to average more than 30 points per game. Darian Keyser scored nearly 13 points per game, but will likely need to take on a larger scoring role for Jamestown to stay near the .500 mark.
Port Allegany was near the bottom of the North Tier League standings at 6-16 last year. The Gators will have leading scorer Howie Stuckey (19.5 ppg) back this season, but will need secondary scoring to climb in the standings.
North Clarion finished tied atop the KSAC North standings with Clarion-Limestone last year, but C-L got the tiebreaker to win the division. North Clarion finished 21-4 overall and advanced to the state playoffs.
The Wolverines, coming off a 1-21 campaign, will be looking to set the tone for a turnaround season this weekend. Sheffield has most of its team coming back, led by Tyler Hepinger. The junior is a threat to score from anywhere on the floor and averaged nearly 15 points per game last year (14.7). If Jake Vinopal (8.2 ppg) and Tony Richards (7.0 ppg) can take the next step in their development as well, the Wolverines could surprise some teams this year.
Today’s schedule begins at 4 p.m. with Youngsville and Mercer girls. Jamestown and Port Allegany boys follow, with Sheffield and Port Allegany girls next and North Clarion against Sheffield boys in the nightcap.
Eisenhower’s season-opener, hosting Otto-Eldred, is now a varsity only contest tonight. Tip-time is slated for 6:30 p.m